QUESTION: What’s the best fertilizer for cabbage? Do I need a certain kind? – Ellen K
GARDENING CHANNEL REPLIES: The main goal when fertilizing cabbage is to supply a boost of nutrients to encourage healthier plants and a bountiful harvest.
The key is to ensure you apply a fertilizer that’s lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus.
There’s a variety of fertilizers that should supply the cabbage with what it needs. These options range from synthetic to organic and granular (slow-release fertilizer) to water-soluble (a fast-acting fertilizer).
Should you use a chemical fertilizer, the pro is that it’s more cost-effective. The cons to this type of fertilizer is it strips nutrients from the soil over the long haul.
Plus, it can burn your plants if applied too heavily at the time of application.
You may also use organic fertilizers. These cost a little more, but they help build the quality of your soil over the years and can be cost-effective if you make your own.
When fertilizing cabbage, you should begin by amending your soil prior to planting with a slow-release fertilizer. You may use compost or fertilizer granules which come in synthetic and organic options.
It’s a good idea to test your soil prior to amending. If your soil becomes too heavy in certain nutrients, you’ll have to deal with it the entire growing season as it’s difficult to pull nutrients out of the soil once they’re in there.
Amending the soil prior to planting won’t supply an immediate boost of nutrients to your plants, but it’s there more as a base to feed your plants throughout the growing season.
It’s wise to apply a second dose of slow-release fertilizer to your plants halfway through the growing season. When you do this, ensure the soil isn’t bone dry.
If it is, water the plants two hours prior to application. Then sprinkle the granules around the base of the plants and water them again.
The process is a little different when applying a water-soluble fertilizer to your plants. Assuming you start your cabbage plants from seed, you shouldn’t fertilize them until they have four true leaves.
Then you’ll use a diluted water-soluble fertilizer. Again, this can be synthetic, but you may also use fish emulsion or compost tea.
Apply this diluted fertilizer to the base of your plants every two weeks, once they have four true leaves, until the time of transplant. To prepare the fertilizer, mix the ingredients with water and ensure it’s diluted by approximately 50%.
The idea is to apply necessary moisture and fertilizer, but don’t leave your cabbage plants in an oversaturated state. It’s vital that the soil and containers you’re growing the seedlings in are well-draining.
Once the plants are in their permanent growing location, fertilize them using the same method one time per month.
Remember, you don’t want to supply the plant with large amounts of nitrogen as this may help with the growth of the plant’s foliage, but it will reduce the size of the heads.
You now have an idea of what type of fertilizer to use with your cabbage. It’s a personal choice, based upon preferences and budget, as to whether you’ll go with organic or synthetic fertilizer.
However, if using synthetic fertilizer do so with care as you don’t want to harm your plants. Now, it’s your turn. Take this information and use it to grow delicious cabbage in your home garden.